New technology may lead to on-demand vaccine production

Researchers from the University of Washington and Emory University recently developed a new type of vaccine production technology that may be ideal for use in developing countries or to fight emerging epidemics.

Recipients of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health's Grand Challenges Explorations grant developed a new technology that can produce vaccines as-needed within minutes, drastically reducing production costs and the need for refrigeration.

"We're really excited about this technology because it makes it possible to produce a vaccine on the spot," Fran├žois Baneyx, UW professor of chemical engineering and lead author of the study, said. "For instance, a field doctor could see the beginnings of an epidemic, make vaccine doses right away, and blanket-vaccinate the entire population in the affected area to prevent the spread of an epidemic."

The new process uses nanoparticles to help direct a pathogen to the lymph nodes where it can meet dendritic cells, which play a key role in strong autoimmune response. The process, which uses proteins from the targeted pathogen, water, calcium and phosphate, can ideally work to fight against a number of diseases.

The vaccine can be administered by topical patch, potentially decreasing the need for trained medical professionals, ideal in areas that may lack access to adequate healthcare. More research must be done to develop and test the vaccines in a human study, but the research team is hopeful that the technology will play a role in improving global access to affordable vaccines.